Benchmark finds niche in church construction
He and his company do, that is.
With impressive projects such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office complex in Vicksburg, the Escambia County, Fla., Courthouse and numerous hospitals and detention facilities in Benchmark Construction’s ample portfolio, the company has also developed a niche market in the area of church-related construction jobs.
The idea of building churches actually evolved from his staff, says the affable Marsh.
“Several people in our company were involved in their own churches and we began to see a trend wherein the construction budget for a church was simply not met,” he said. “We saw that churches would hire very capable professionals to design all the desires of the church only to ultimately discover that the project couldn’t be built within the available funds” raised by the individual church.
The situation created problems within the churches, Marsh says.
“The congregation would always be excited about the new building project, but when significant money had been spent on plans and specifications, they’d find out that that the project was over budget,” he said. “It was a hardship for the church building committees, as well as the pastors and congregations.”
Benchmark undertakes church construction projects on a partnering basis, with the building committee, contractor and architect working together so as not exceed the church’s building budget.
“Using this approach, we’re able to work backwards from the budget,” Marsh said. “This team approach keeps everyone informed of exactly what they will receive and what it will cost. The vast majority of churches we are involved with welcome this process and realize it will create a harmonious relationship with all parties.”
Asked how a church-related project differs from other construction projects that the company takes on, Marsh said it’s the amount of pre-construction time.
“Our involvement in church projects is always at the conceptual stage,” he said. “This allows us to have a true understanding of their needs, wants and the budget. A relationship evolves that grows into mutual trust. Once this relationship is established, all the issues become very manageable.”
Marsh’s biggest challenge is understanding the importance for each church to make sure that they receive the maximum benefit for the funds that are allocated for the building project.
“Every system and aspect of the church is examined and evaluated to make sure that there is no wasted money,” he said. “We realized long ago that regardless of the amount of money given by different members of the congregation, everyone is duly entitled to understand how every dollar is spent and why it’s being spent.”
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